THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE OF SEXUAL ABUSE
SEXUAL ABUSE is any unwanted or forced sexual encounter. Force is not just physical force or violence, but includes physical and verbal pressure, tricks, bribes, and threats.
SEXUAL ASSAULT is any forced or unwanted touch to the sexual parts of a person's body.
RAPE is any forced or unwanted penetration of the nay part of the victims' body by any part of the
offender's body, or by an object.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT is unwanted, non-physical sexual attention. Sexual harassment includes obscene phone calls, jokes, gestures, and teasing. Sexual harassment is determined by how the
victim feels about the behavior, not by what the offender intended.
Sexual harassment is different from flirting. Flirting is wanted, mutual, and complimentary. Sexual
harassment is unwanted, one-sided and degrading. Additionally, sexual harassment is illegal.
Sexual abuse affects everyone, not just the victim and offender. You have a responsibility to tell
someone if you are aware of sexual abuse happening.
Who Can Be Sexually Abused?
Anyone can be a victim of sexual abuse -- females, males, adults, teens, children, babies -- regardless of income level or ethnic background.
No one knows exactly how many people are sexually abused because abuse is often not reported. Nearly everyone will experience some type of sexual abuse during his or her lifetime. It is always
serious, and always affects the victim.
Approximately one in four girls and one in six boys will report being sexually assaulted before they
turn 18. One in three women and one in ten men will report being sexually assaulted sometime during her/his lifetime.
Approximately 70% of the sexual abuse cases reported to Day One each year involve children under
the age of 18.
Who Sexually Abuses People?
About 75% of the time the offender is someone the victim knows. Often it is someone the victim
trusts and loves. It could be a friend or relative. It could be someone close to your age, or even younger.
Where Does Sexual Abuse Happen?
Three of the most common places in which abuse occurs are the victim's home, the offender's home, and school.
Offenders can be male or female. Offenders often seem very nice and may be well liked by other people. Offenders are totally responsible for the crimes they commit.
Pretend it does not bother you. They want to get a reaction from you.
- What You Can Do If You Are Being Bullied
Laugh and say, "That was really funny! That will confuse them!
Agree with the bully. Say, "You're right, this is an ugly sweater. I don't like it either!"
Confuse the bully. Make them keep repeating what they said. Say, "What do you mean? What do
you mean? I don't understand! What is your point?"
Be assertive. Confront the bully. Stand up straight and look them in the eye. Tell them you do not
like what they are doing and if they do not stop, you will tell.
Get a friend to help you stand up to them.
If you can't do these things or they do not work ...
Tell a teacher - Tell a parent or another adult
What Friends Can Do
Don't watch. Walk away. The bully wants an audience
Don't react. Don't laugh when someone says something mean. The bully is looking for a reaction.
Don't gossip or spread rumors. Fight gossip with the truth.
Offer support to the person who was being bullied later in private. "I didn't like what (the bully) said to you at recess!"
Offer other kinds of help to the person who is being bullied. "Can I help you with your homework?"
Offer support to the person being bullied - in front of the bully.
"I don't think your shirt is ugly. I have a shirt just like it!"
Get other students to help you. Support in numbers.
Create a distraction.
"Hey, let me tell (or show) you something!" or "Look over there!"
Change the topic. "I'm not good at math (soccer, reading, etc) either!"
Tell a joke to distract the bully.
Extend an invitation. "Come on, lets go over there and play with those kids," or "Want to come over my house this weekend?"
Appeal to the bully.
"Let's play together, I bet it will be fun."
Confront the bully. "If you are going to be bossy or bully somebody, I'm not going to play with you!"
Care about the bully.
Say, "Come on, you don't want to do that," or, "I don't want you to get in trouble."
Get a teacher, parent or other adult to help. Getting help is not tattling.
There are some things people can do to help reduce the risks of a sexual assault in dating situations. However, remember that being raped is NEVER the fault of the victim.
- Set sexual limits that YOU are comfortable with. You have the right to make decisions about your own body and your own desires. Refusing sexual activity doesn't mean you are "frigid" or that
anything is wrong with you.
- Be clear and consistent in communication. Although it can be difficult, it is important that the other person understand clearly what you do and do not want to do.
- Be firm and assertive. Being passive or "polite" may be misinterpreted as giving permission.
- Be independent on dates. Go to places where you feel comfortable, express opinions on what to do, where to go, etc., carry money or have a way to get home if necessary.
- Don't do things you don't want to in order to avoid making a scene or being embarrassed. Don't worry about hurting the other person's feelings; obviously he or she isn't worried about how you feel about the situation.
- Trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right or if you feel pressured by your date, trust your feelings and try to get out of the situation as soon as possible.
- Remember that alcohol and drugs are often involved in date rape situations. On average, 50% of victims and 75% of offenders have used drugs or alcohol prior to date rape. In addition, date rape
drugs are often slipped into drinks to lower a person's ability to make decisions.
- Make sure someone you trust knows where you are. Let a friend, family member, roommates, etc. know where you will be and call them if the plans change.
UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS VS HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Relationship abuse/violence is a repeated pattern of actual or threatened acts that emotionally, verbally, physically, or sexually hurts another person.
- It (relationship violence) can't happen to me.
- Dating violence is not that serious.
- Victims bring on the abuse themselves.
- If a person stays in an abusive relationship, it must not be that bad.
- If my date spends a lot of money on me, I have to sleep with him.
- The person is jealous/hurts me because he loves me.
- If I keep him/her happy, then the violence will stop.
- Drugs/alcohol/stress causes the abuse.
- It's the victims' own fault for not leaving their abusers.
- Only females are victims of relationship violence.
Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
A victim of relationship violence may:
- Become isolated, spending little or no time with friends and family
- Have bruises, or wear a lot of make-up or dress unusually to cover marks and bruises
- Have trouble making decisions
- Seem depressed
- Begin to drink or use drugs
An abusive partner may:
- "Check up" on the victim constantly and limit interactions with friends or family
- Give orders or ignore the victim's opinion
- Make threats or have a history of violence
- Deliberately humiliate or make fun of the victim
- Blame the victim for provoking him/her
Healthy Relationships are based on:
- Open Communication
- Respect for Boundaries
- Trust & Commitment
Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship
- You trust each other
- You are not afraid to speak your mind
- Your partner likes your friends and wants you to spend time with them
- He/she understands when you can not be with him/her
- He/she likes you for who you are
- You make important decisions together
- He/she encourages you to try different activities
- You do not have to lie or cover up for his/her mistakes
Relationship Do's and Don'ts
- Find someone to talk to.
- Exercise and eat properly.
- Get enough sleep.
- Identify what's important to you.
- Develop interests – things that you like to do.
- Rush into a serious relationship.
- Blame yourself for your partner's behavior.
- Neglect your own needs and interests.
INFORMATION ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Legal Issues of Sexual Harassment
The law is concerned with the impact of the behavior not the intent of the behavior. There are two types of sexual harassment:
- Quid Pro Quo
A case which an instructor, boss or supervisor (person in a position of power) requests and/or demands sexual favors as a condition of good grades, employment, a raise, promotion, time off, etc.
- Hostile Environment
A case in which an instructor or supervisor permits an atmosphere where unwelcome sexual innuendo, comments, harassment, etc. occur. (The conduct has the effect of unreasonably
interfering with a person's work or school performance or creating an intimidating or hostile environment.)
Teens tolerate sexual harassment for the most part because they are unclear about the difference between flirting and sexual harassment and in many cases do not know how to respond.
What is the difference between Flirting and Sexual Harassment?
Any sexual attention or behavior that:
- is wanted by all involved
- feels good to all involved
- is flattering to all involved
- is reciprocated by all involved
- is legal
- is unwanted by some
- feels uncomfortable to some
- is degrading or humiliating to some
- is one sided
- is illegal
What are some forms of sexual harassment?
- Spreading rumors
- Pressuring someone to do something
- Following someone
What to do if you are being harassed:
It is important to do something! Ignoring this behavior usually does not work.
- Tell the harasser you want the behavior to stop.
- Have a friend of yours, or a friend of the harasser's, help you.
- Get someone in authority to help you. Tell a teacher or supervisor. If the person you tell does not help, keep telling. If the harassment is happening at school or work, a person in authority must
respond, or they can be charged with sexual harassment also.
Questions to help you identify if you are displaying sexually harassing behavior:
- Would you want your behavior to appear on TV?
- Is what you are saying intended to make the other person feel good, or to make them feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, scared, or threatened?
- Is it something you would say in front of your parents, the principal, or other people you respect?
- Is it something you would want said or done to your mother, girlfriend, sister, etc.?
- Is there a difference between you and this person - do you have some power over this person? (Physical size, social status, employer, teacher)
Ignoring problems will not make them go away. The following steps can help you solve a problem. It could be a sexual harassment problem, a school problem or another problem you may be having with someone - a
friend, a sibling or an adult.
- Identify the problem. This is often overlooked and more difficult than it seems. You need to know what the problem is before you can solve it.
- Brainstorm possible solutions to the problem. All possibilities should be included. Do not evaluate any of the solutions now. The idea is to express all of your thoughts and ideas, even the ones you
think might be difficult to do.
- Evaluate all solutions for effectiveness (how likely is it to solve the identified problem?), consequences (what will happen if I use this solution?), and consideration of the feelings of all
people involved. Try to remember that there is no one perfect solution. It is acceptable to try a solution that only has a small chance of success if it also has no, or few, negative consequences.
- Develop a plan. Which solution will you try first? How will you try it? How will you know if it worked? What will you do if it doesn't work? It is OK if the first attempt does not work. You can always go
back and try a different solution.
And most importantly, if the first solution you try doesn't work, TRY SOMETHING ELSE, AND KEEP TRYING. If you run out of solutions, begin again and brainstorm more solutions. Have a parent, or friend help you
come up with additional possible solutions.
QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU ASSESS A SITUATION FOR SAFETY
Ask yourself the three questions below to help assess a situation for safety. If you answer "no" to any of the questions, you are probably not safe.
- Do I have a "yes" or "no" feeling?Trust your instincts and feelings.
If things don't feel right, reconsider your plans.
Don't let friends talk you into doing something that doesn't feel right.
- Does an adult I trust know where I am & what is happening?Always let an adult know where you will be.
If the situation changes, let an adult know.
Think about the people you can trust for help.
- Can I get help if I need it?Think about the types of problems that you might encounter.
Develop a detailed plan to deal with possible unsafe situations.
Think about how to get help before you need it.
Discuss your plans with an adult you trust.
Have a back-up plan in case things don't work out.
These are questions that can be used by children, teens and adults. The questions are helpful in situations with strangers and with people that we know. Some examples of situations may include: being offered a
ride, being asked go somewhere potentially dangerous by a friend, being at a party with drugs or alcohol, being asked for directions by a stranger, being asked by a police officer to help find another child.
HOW TO HELP A FRIEND
Your friend may be scared or confused. He/she is asking for your help.
- Be calm. Listen. Ask how you can help.
- Believe your friend.
Tell your friend the abuse is not his/her fault.
Sexual abuse victims often feel that they have done something wrong. Do not view mistakes in judgment as reason for blame. Avoid statements like:
"If you had only..."
"You should have known better."
"Why did you let him do that?"
Call the 24-hour Helpline at 1-800-494-8100.
An advocate from the Helpline can explain how to handle your friend's emotions. They can answer
your questions about what you should do. You do not have to be the victim to call. Help and support are also provided to family members and friends of the victim.
Get help for your friend.
If the victim is a child or teenager, try to get your friend to talk to a trusted adult, like a parent,
teacher, counselor, school nurse, relative, or adult friend. If you cannot get your friend to talk to an adult, try to get him/her to call Day One or the Helpline. Both can give you advice on how to get help for a friend.
Protect your friend's privacy.
Don't let it get all over your school or neighborhood. If you need to talk to someone, talk to a trusted adult or call Day one at (401) 421-4100 or the Helpline at 1-800-494-8100.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN ABUSED
The experience you have been through may have been confusing, frightening, embarrassing, and uncomfortable. It is important to know that no matter what the circumstances surrounding the abuse were, you are not to blame.
The Victims of Crime Helpline (1-800-494-8100), a partnership between Day one and Blackstone Shelter, is a 24-hour Helpline where trained advocates offer confidential information and support for victims and
survivors of all types of crime. Advocates can also meet you at the hospital, police station, or in court. There is no charge for these services. Advocates provide support and information to friends and relatives
of victims, men, women, teens, and children.
If you would like to speak with a member of the Education and Prevention Staff for information or support,
call 421-4100x0 during the day or 421-4100x17 after business hours and leave a message.
If you have just been abused, it may help to:
- Call the Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100.
- Talk to an adult you trust.
- Go to the hospital emergency room for a medical examination. The Helpline will arrange for someone from Day One to meet you there.
If the abuse was a sexual assault:
- Do not wash, change your clothes or eat anything before you are examined.
- The hospital can treat you for internal and/or external injuries, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy prevention. The exam will also collect evidence in case you decide to report the assault to the police.
If you have just been abused, you do not have to decide about reporting to the police right away. You
can discuss the steps in making a police report with an advocate from Day One. If you decide to report the assault to the police, an advocate from the Center can meet you at the police station.
Depending on the type of crime, you may be able to take legal action several years after the abuse occurred. For example, there is no statute of limitation for first and second degree child molestation or first
degree sexual assault in the State of Rhode Island.
YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- You have the right to feel safe and comfortable in any situation.
- You have the right to trust yourself.
- You have the right to say "no" without feeling guilty, even to an adult or friend.
- You have the right to stand up for yourself.
- You have the right to protect yourself in the best way that you can.
- You have the right to ask for help, both from adults and from your friends.
- You have the right to be listened to and to be taken seriously.
- You have the right to decide what is important to you.
- You have the responsibility not to make other people feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
- You have the responsibility to listen when other people say "no".
- You have the responsibility not to touch other people without their permission.
- You have the responsibility not to talk others into doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared.
- You have the responsibility to allow others to decide what is important to them.
- If you see abuse happening, you have the responsibility to do something. You might tell the person to stop or tell someone who can make the person stop.